MICHAEL COLE – I AM SORRY. There, I have said it.
Back in August, I wrote an article criticising the current state of WWE commentary, in particular Michael Cole.
He had been insufferable on commentary, but not only that, he was detrimental to the promotion in his incessant derision of the roster and professional wrestling.
Then everything changed.
On Monday September 11th, Jerry ‘ The King’ Lawler suffered a heart attack live on Raw. Lawler had wrestled earlier in the night in a match where he teamed with Randy Orton to take on CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler. Later in the night, Lawler received lifesaving resuscitation from the WWE doctor, Michael Sampson.
Despite the panic and confusion beside him, a shaken Cole continued calling the Daniel Bryan and Kane match against the Prime Time Players, not missing a beat, as well as attending to his broadcast partner. Shortly after this, Cole informed the audience about what had just transpired. Michael Cole’s stoicism was what we wanted at this point. He was completely respectful, informative and reassuring. He was a human being.
Out of respect for his broadcast colleague, Cole did not commentate for the remainder of the show. Thankfully Lawler is on the road to recovery, yet it is still unknown as to when he will return to the Raw announce desk. Since that night in Montreal, Cole has exuded professionalism, stripping away the absurdity; instead he’s expressed the authoritative voice needed to be the lead announcer of the flagship programme.
It has been a long road for Michael Cole in reaching this point. He first appeared on our screens in 1997 as a backstage interviewer, but soon was being groomed as the lead announcer in Vince McMahon’s quest to oust Jim Ross. He had something Vince McMahon craved, success outside of wrestling. Cole was a journalist for CBS radio covering such things as the Yugoslavian civil war. He was everything Jim Ross wasn’t, and with wrestling never being his passion working for him rather than against, he was destined to be the voice of the WWE. It was just a shame that the fans didn’t co-operate with this decision.
In 2007 live on air, Michael Cole had the unfortunate task of replacing Jim Ross as the announcer of Raw – but the fans didn’t take to Cole. He had always been competent but never exhibited the passion of his predecessor.
Two years ago, Cole finally found his niche, infusing a misanthropic tomfoolery to his repertoire on the first season of NXT, infamously ‘burying’ Daniel Bryan. He was WWE’s version of Statler and Waldorf. At first Cole’s damning asides were actually amusing and so it didn’t take long for his new acerbic persona to carry its way onto the other WWE programming. Although the comments were often hilarious, they were also extremely destructive. Then Cole had the task of being the mouthpiece for the Anonymous RAW General Manager, savouring every opportunity to feed off the animosity from the fans. The peak of his heel act happened at WrestleMania 27 when Cole wrestled his broadcast partner Jerry Lawler in both their debuts at the event. The match itself was an abomination, but that didn’t stop Michael Cole making several other appearances, mainly against Lawler, but also showing up at this year’s Royal Rumble.
Since Lawler’s heart attack, Michael Cole has partnered up with his old Smackdown colleague, JBL and then Jim Ross in calling the action on Raw. He has also has dropped his heel persona, reverting back to cheering the babyfaces and concentrating on the action in the ring.
Michael Cole and Jim Ross working together is a complete contrast to their previous partnership; instead of Cole being spiteful and undermining Ross, the two are respectful and their focus is on the action in the ring. As a result, the product has seemed far more compelling with the commentary tandem enriching the storylines and treating the wrestlers with reverence. His tweet from 22nd October is evidence that Michael Cole is clearly enjoying his work with Ross:
It seems callous to even suggest it, but with Michael Cole and Jim Ross working so fluently together, it would seem a mistake to break up this proficient team. Jerry Lawler’s languorous approach to commentary would not be beneficial to the current strides in the commentary presentation on the programme. A return to the three man booth would be the optimum choice, but with the focus this time being on the action rather than bickering. Or perhaps, Lawler could leave the desk and take the vacant role of General Manager, allowing him to garner revenge on Punk without having to wrestle. And as we have seen recently, Lawler can sure do those money promos.
Cole is no longer the clown, but the lead announcer of the programme. He is what you’d want from in someone in that position.
Jim Ross had left an indelible mark as the voice of WWE and anyone who had the misfortune of replacing him was going to be lambasted. However, Cole has earned his seat at the table. It’s only taken 15 years, but Michael Cole has finally been accepted as a credible announcer by the WWE Universe.
This article was written by Richard Hattersley.
Richard is the newest contributor to Collar & Elbow Wrestling – keep an eye out for future articles coming soon from him. In the meantime, follow him on Twitter @DickieHatts.